Saturday, September 15, 2018

Taipei, Taiwan: September 10-15, 2018



Back in Taipei, we bought a 5-day pass good for metro and buses and explored as much as we could. One day we visited nearby Yangmingshan National Park. Near the park's entrance, you must board Park Shuttle Bus 108 to continue. We took a few short hikes at various stops inside the park. After the heat of Taipei, it was lovely to hike in the fog.


Toilet options: adult size or child size
The steam rising behind Dan is from Xiaoyoukeng fumaroles on the slopes of Mt. Qixing (1120m/3670 ft) Taipei's highest mountain.



After all that hiking, we took advantage of a foot soak at Lengshuikeng (Cold-Water Valley). The water here was only about 40℃/104℉. The water color is due to the high iron content. There are separate men and women's bath houses here, too, with the same "cool" water.


Across the street from the foot soak, we watched vans carrying wedding hopefuls swoop in one after another like planes landing in San Francisco. They were all here for pre-wedding photo sessions on the bridge, by a small lake, on the grass ......



Our lodging in Taipei was just a couple of blocks from the Red Line's Stop 12-Shuanglian. There was a small daily market next to the subway stop.




We went to the Tong Hua Night Market (also called Linjiang Street Night Market). Of the many night markets in Taipei, this one is supposed to be smaller and less touristy. We found it easy to navigate with many great food choices. We went for the street food.



A fruit seller in the middle of the street had kind of a horizontal windmill of cloths circling over her fruit stand. They look like birds in the photo.

We had sweet potato fries with three colors of sweet potatoes.


We ate a deep-fried spicy pork roll stuffed with cheese.



We had dessert at the Cat Paw Cake Shop where the young woman who works there wears cat's ears. She makes little chocolate, tea, or vanilla cakes in the shape of cat paws (like cat shaped madeleines) and each one can be filled with either chocolate or cheese.


 For a second dessert, I found the stand that sells spring roll ice cream. This unusual dessert begins with a large paper thin spring roll wrapper. To that, add two or three small scoops of ice cream, shaved peanut brittle, and cilantro. Roll up the wrapper like a burrito and eat. The ice cream flavor choices are pineapple, red bean, and taro. It was fabulous. I loved it, Dan didn't.




And, that was dinner. One Taiwanese street-food specialty that we didn't try was "Stinky Tofu." You can have it braised, barbecued, steamed, skewered, stewed, deep-fried. The smell was truly horrible and I think my gag reflex would have kicked in if any type of stinky tofu had come near my mouth.

With all the interesting temples in Taiwan, we did manage to visit a few in Taipei. The lovely Bao'an Temple received a well deserved UNESCO Heritage Award for its restoration and for its revival of temple rites and ceremonies. The temple was founded in 1760 by immigrants from Quanzhou in China's Fujian province. The shape of the current structure dates back to 1805. The temple is dedicated to Baosheng Dadi, the Emperor of Health.







The other very interesting temple is Guandu Temple (Taoist) which dates back to 1661 and is Taipei's oldest. There have been some changes in the last 357 years. We entered through the front entrance carved out of a mountainside. Once through the front door there is a 100 meter tunnel leading to the other parts of this multi-storied temple.



At the end of the main tunnel you end up under a dome at "the God of Prosperity Pit" which could double for a 22nd-century Star Chamber but was created in 1980. The deity on the back wall is the "Great Emperor of Purple Tenebrity" surrounded by columns of "God of Prosperity" Lamps. By lighting these lamps one can wish for a smooth journey in fortune and career.


The Guandu complex is huge and within the complex there are many temples. One of my favorites was the Hall of the Medicine Buddha. Medicine Buddha is surrounded by walls and pillars covered with thousands of Medicine Buddha lamps. The lamps (electric) are lit by worshipers in an effort to eliminate suffering and achieve longevity.


On the walls to the left of Medicine Buddha are several glass cases holding 672 small statues of Guanyin sometimes known as the female Buddha.


Looking over the rooftops at Guandu Complex toward Taipei City



The temple complex is surrounded by its own gardens and by the Guandu Nature Park.



Worshiper with Joss Sticks (incense) in the Praying Hall
The Taoist temples in Taiwan are like nothing I've seen before and they provide an escape from the heat of the day. 

After the Guandu complex we visited a less colorful temple dedicated to Guanyin. The Puji Temple (Buddhist) is a Japanese style wooden structure built in 1905. It's elegant but modest design with bell-shaped windows was in extreme contrast to the Guandu complex.



We spent our last day at the excellent National Palace Museum. We saved the museum for a rainy day but rain didn't fall until the next day after we arrived at the airport. 

Next stop: return to Mongolia

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